32 VERDICT ON INDIA The Brahmins might be said to play the same role in India's political life as the old Etonians in Britain. The main difference is that they have no organized labour to keep them in order. By and large, they are masters of all they survey—except when they turn round and take a look at the Muslims.1 The three other castes are the Kshatriyas or warriors, the Vaisyas or traders—(Gandhi is a Vaisya)—and the Sudras, or cultivators and menials. Way off in the outer darkness, sunk deep in the mind, are the castcless ones, the untouchables, nearly CO million of them. This classification is drastically simplified. There are actually 2500 castes, all with their taboos, their social restrictions, and their almost incredible ing2nuity in complicating the most simple process of life. These castes split the Hindu fabric into a sort of crazy quilt, lacking all homogeneity, held together only by fear—fear of each other, fear of the Maslims, fear of British law. Over and over again it must be emphasized that these castes are a matter of modern, not ancient history. A homely little instance may sometimes make a point more vivid than any amount of statistics ; here is one. Not long ago I spilt a bottle of iodine on the floor of a fiat where I was staying. I had nothing to wipe it up with, and I called for a servant to ask him if he would kindly get a rag and remove the stain. There were five servants in the flat and they had nothing to do; it seemed a reasonable request. It was not granted. One after another they came in, regarded the stain, and departed, with black looks. Losing my patience, I went to the kitchen, found a rag, and wiped the thing up myself. ' What is the matter with you all ?' I demanded, when I handed back the rag. They explained that Dido, the sweeper, the untouchable, was out having his lunch, and only he could wipe up the stain. They would be degraded if they did it themselves, and he—Dido—would lose respect for them if he heard about it. 1 The Brahmins, in spite of their lofty position, have not attracted much love to themselves in the long history of India. And ancient saying, still current, is 'if you meet a snake and a Brahmin, kill the Brahmin.1 Perhaps this is due to the preposter- ous nature of their claims. For example, Mannt maker of laws ruled that to accuse % Brahmin of a crime was sinful even if the Brahmin was guilty.